Monday, 16 December 2019

How Nigerian lawmakers squandered billions of naira meant for constituency projects


How Nigerian lawmakers squandered billions of naira meant for constituency projects

  • Nigerian lawmakers used sharp practices such as duplication of contracts, in connivance with executing agencies, to pocket billions of naira meant for constituency projects, a new report by ICPC revealed.
  • The report uncovered billions of naira included in the 2019 budget but not allocated to any specific project or sector.
  • It tracked 424 projects between 2015 to 2018 in the zonal intervention projects covering 12 states and the federal capital territory. 
A new report has uncovered how Nigerian lawmakers used sharp practices such as duplication of contracts, in connivance with executing agencies, to pocket billions of naira meant for constituency projects.
The report, conducted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), uncovered billions of naira included in the 2019 budget but not allocated to any specific project or sector.
The report conducted by Constituency Projects Tracking Group (CPTG) also detailed some recommendations of the ICPC in the fight against corruption.
The first phase tracked 424 projects within three years (2015–2018) in the zonal intervention projects between June and August 2019, covering 12 states and the federal capital territory.
The states are Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Osun, and Sokoto.
Constituency project is a response to the yearning of constituents on development initiatives and the presence of government in different communities. According to a study, since inception in Nigeria, there have been misconceptions, misinterpretations, and judgment of the administration of the funds by lawmakers.

Here are highlights of the report:

  • The report revealed wide disproportionality between appropriations for constituency projects and core-mandate projects of some implementing agencies evident in Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) and Border Community Development Agency (BCDA).
  • The size, number and types of Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP) domiciled in SMEDAN and BCDA, for instance, have turned them into conduits for, and means of abuse of constituency projects and therefore vulnerable to corruption.
  • Lawmakers turned constituency projects are also turned to capacity building and empowerment projects which entails training, supplies, and distribution of varieties of such implements and tools as motorcycles, tricycles, sewing machines, grinding machines, etc to constituents, to empower them to own and operate their businesses. At times, it also includes cash grants. The report revealed that these have become a convenient conduit for embezzling public funds by sponsoring legislators and the executing agency as they are difficult to track and verify due to their “soft” nature.
On recommendation, the ICPC report called for a review of the statutory mandate of SMEDAN and BCDA on project types. It recommended that a robust sensitisation on concept, funding, and implementation of projects to local communities.
It also advised the government not to accept new projects in certain constituencies if there are existing uncompleted or underfunded projects.

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